The Dallas Stars lost in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. And while they only picked up one point, that’s the kind of effort that could spark the team for the rest of the season.
Since when do losses affect the Dallas Stars in a positive way? It’s not a normal thing, but who needs normal anyways?
On Thursday night, the Dallas Stars were at a crossroads. They had 19 games left in their season, narrowly possessed the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, and were staring down the league’s best team for their first matchup of the month. The pressure was on and the nothing but the best was needed from a team that had struggled in recent outings.
Dallas had lost four of their past seven games, including a few decisions by blowout. After starting the month of February with a five-game win streak and significant promise, hopes were becoming shaky. Was this Dallas Stars team actually ready to not only qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but make a run? Nothing seemed guaranteed anymore.
And to make things worse, the Tampa Bay Lightning were visiting for the first game of the month. The Stars had only crossed paths with the Bolts once this season, and Tampa Bay had run away with a dominant 6-1 victory.
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The loss made sense, though. The Lightning are currently the best team in the NHL with a record of 44-17-4 and 92 points. They picked up that 44th win on Thursday night against Dallas as they defeated the Stars 5-4 in the final minute of overtime.
The Dallas Stars really needed a win and didn’t get it. The Lightning, on the other hand, simply added on to their argument as legitimate President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup favorites.
So where is the doubt? Where are the complaints about Nill not adding any new players at the trade deadline? Why are Stars fans not abandoning hope and already planning for next season like they were just last weekend? Well, because that’s an overtime loss that collectively restored faith in the 2017-18 Dallas Stars.
Yes, the Stars lost and only got one point in a game where they really could have used two. On top of that, they gave up five goals and gave away three unanswered goals after claiming a 2-1 lead in the second period.
But their efforts were undeniably impressive throughout the game. The Dallas Stars owned the first period, fell asleep in the second after taking the lead, and clawed back from a 4-2deficit in the third period to tie things up. The key in the game was their third period efforts, where they outshot Tampa Bay 14-3 and picked up a goal from Brett Ritchie and a buzzer beater goal from Mattias Janmark.
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This was just a small sliver of what made last night’s game so promising, though. For one, the Lightning are a really good team. That’s why they put five goals on the board. But the Stars put up four goals of their own, including two from depth scorers (Ritchie and Janmark).
Tyler Seguin played his heart out yet again, scoring two goals (including one on the power play) and leading the Dallas attack through the first half of the game. No. 91 needs a new contract this summer, but more on that later.
The Dallas Stars finally looked like their former selves in last night’s game. They picked up the pace, outplayed the Lightning in a few different areas, and clawed back when they had to. The Stars from the past few weeks would have quit after staring down a 4-2 deficit in the second intermission. But these Stars didn’t.
Dallas picked up a point against the NHL’s top club that helped them gain ground in the playoff race. If that isn’t considered a successful start to an intense month of March, then I don’t know what is.
But it’s not just this one game that carries a successful tone. The Stars now have points in three of their past four games and showed signs of a revival in Thursday night’s game. They looked like a team that not only wanted to be on the ice, but wanted to win. And when this lineup looks like that, they can be near impossible to beat.
The game against Tampa Bay reminded the Dallas Stars (and the league) that the team still has power and skill. When they access it and have everything clicking at the same time, the team is undeniably one of the best in the league. The problem is getting it all clicking at the same pace. But that’s what the playoff push is for.
The Dallas Stars restored faith in their season and their abilities with an overtime loss to the Lightning on Thursday.
This team can still do things that are seemingly impossible if they put their minds to it. That’s an encouraging thing to see with just 18 games to go in the regular season.